Thursday, April 25, 2013

Practical Benefits of Philosophy 5. Fixed and Growth Mindsets

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, in the course of many years of research, has found that people by and large possess one of two mindsets or theories about themselves.  Some people hold what she calls a “fixed or entity” mindset.  A person with a fixed mindset, Dweck explains, believes that people are all born with a certain set of skills and competencies. We either have a talent for something or we don't.  You have artistic ability or not; you have language skills or not; you are a great natural leader or not.  You have no say in the matter.

On the other end of the spectrum is what Dweck calls the “growth” (or malleable or incremental) mindset.  Growth mindset people believe that qualities can be developed with effort and instruction, and that it is possible to generate their own talent.  For those with a full-bore growth mindset, practically anything is possible.

In other words, Dweck – who, as far as I know, has no background in philosophy whatsoever – has discovered that people tend to be either essentialists or existentialists, at least about themselves.

Carol Dweck

Next:  The Work of Carol Dweck and Others

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